Working in Shipping for the last 15 years, Vienna was the last place I could think of ending up in, for the sole reason it is not a port city. In my career all these years, I had the privilege to see many different parts of the world, from Brazil to Malaysia, from Texas to Siberia and they were all beautiful in their own special way.
Like every city it all starts with the people. A big city vibe, but with a small town pace. Not too big where it becomes overwhelming, but not too small, to the point where you might get bored or discover everything to soon. Smiling people all around, walking relaxed down the street, even during rush-hour. I cannot get over the fact that in our first three months here we have been invited for dinner to our Landlord's place, our next building neighbors, the neighbors from above, we already have a favorite bar and a favorite restaurant. I cannot recall a city I lived in, where people have been so friendly and easy going. I was weary reading reviews on the internet, about Austria having a right wing government and all, but to be frank and fair, I have not felt one bit unwelcome, even though I am Greek, and it is not the most popular nationality to be in Northern Europe these days. The city will welcome with open arms anyone who is coming and willing to become part of the culture. Of course both me and my partner speak German which made the experience a lot easier.
The next very pleasant surprise is the services. There is a clear procedure for everything and there is rules. Getting registered has been really straight forward, and so has been setting your self up with Utilities providers, Bank Account, Health insurance etc. Hardly any queuing required and most services are available on line. Their transport system is superb, clean, safe and serves the city fast and efficiently. It will only cost you 1 Euro a day if you opt for a year transport card, so 365 Euro where as in Hamburg or London you would spend that Money in 3 months alone.
The architecture is second to none. Amazing Palace, Townhall, Libraries, Museums, adding that
beautiful Barok element, and all wrapped around in patches of Green and fountains throughout the city, This combination, together with the Donau river crossing through, is unlike any other city I have ever seen. It is so Glorious, yet so approachable. So diverse yet so homogeneous. As you start from the Old City (Zone 1) and you spiral outwards, you go through so many different styles of neighborhoods, from jazzy , hip full of bars areas like zone 7 (where I live) to the Green Hill of 19th Zone which is home to the Rich and Famous of the City and some of the best wine.
The culinary experience, is also another element, which in my opinion makes Vienna stand out. You have literally all kinds of cuisine from all over the world, the real deal, be it Indian, or Afghani or Lebanese you are after. I would dare compare it to London in this respect, with the difference that in Vienna you do not get the ponzi, uptight element that comes with a lot of good restaurants in London. Not unless you specifically opt for it, in which case there is places to suit such preferences. The Cafes and the big Hotels around the center of the city, do give you that red carpet atmosphere, only you would not hesitate to walk in and have your Sachetorte and a cappuccino. It is elegant yet not intimidating as walking into the Ritz in London or the Savoy. Somehow Vienna is very inviting in this respect, and it is something I love about the city.
This has been my impression of the city my first 100 days, and I think I will drop the anchor year for the years to come. The quality of life, is simply too good to give up, great people, great food, great atmosphere, great music scene. Vienna, in my humble experience is in a League of its own, and rightfully in first place of most livable cities.